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Teaching children life skills finally pays off

Personally I hate "advice" about how to raise children. We all have our own ideas and methods. Handed down from our own parents, because you know "I turned out OK", or learned from the examples of friends and other relatives. Or - showing my age - gleaned from the pages of parenting BOOKS, or more commonly now - the internet.

I know parenting advice from the internet is not always the best advice - but sometimes it's all we have. And here I am handing out some more.

Last weekend I was feeling a bit worn out having had a very busy week at work, following a big trip to a trade show and all the lead up to that. So actually it was more like a very busy month at work and I was wrecked.

So it was Saturday morning and there were no children's sports games, and no band concerts, and no birthday parties or other events that needed a Mum-taxi until at least late afternoon, so I was taking my time getting out of bed.

By some miracle my daughter Meg got out of bed all by herself. That's very unusual without some kicking and screaming, and by that I mean me kicking things and screaming at her that she will be late for school.

I heard her get up and start crashing about in the kitchen. Then I started smelling something good. Like really good. Sweet pancakey kinds of smells. So I got out of bed to investigate... and found this!
Kimono Daisy Japanese cotton napkin with pancake and strawberries

Meg looked at me and said simply, "You didn't have any of that shakey pancake mix that you usually buy for Mother's Day in the cupboard, so I looked up the recipe for pancakes on Taste.com.au. Do we have maple syrup?"

What is this miracle that has occurred? Not one miracle. A series of miracles!

Miracle One - my daughter is out of bed before midday. Miracle Two - she has used initiative to a) search for food without waking me up to ask where the food is, b) upon not finding the food she sought, used her initiative again to make her own alternative, and c) prepared enough for me and her brother to share!

I was so proud. And I told her so. She answered with Miracle Three, "It's lucky you taught me how to cook Mum", and then, "Oh, and I got one of your napkins out so we could take a picture of my pancakes and put them on your Kimono Daisy Instagram".

Well blow me down. It wasn't a series of miracles after all. It was due to my great parenting skills.

So this is my parenting tip of the week. Teach your children how to cook. How to read a recipe. Introduce them to Taste.com.au. They'll totally go for it if it's on the internet. Let them post pictures of their preparations on Instagram or social media. It doesn't count unless all their friends have "liked" it. No matter how watery the scrambled eggs, no matter how burnt the toast, no matter how misshapen the cookies, be full of praise. Let them add blue food colouring to everything. Let them experiment with flavours (my son went through a stage of adding dried mixed herbs to EVERYTHING).

One day, after cleaning up all the kitchen messes, and bandaging the burnt fingers, and choking down the smoothies of questionable ingredients, they might surprise you and manage to make something good all by themselves. They will be well on their way to self sufficiency when they eventually leave home at age 35. And next time they say, "What is there to eat Mum?", you can tell them to go make something themselves.

Have you let your kids help with the cooking? Or even let them loose in the kitchen by themselves? Disasters? Masterpieces? Any budding Mini Master Chefs out there? What's their go-to recipe?

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